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How to write and structure a journal article
Sharing your research data can be hugely beneficial to your career , as well as to the scholarly community and wider society. But before you do so, there are some important ethical considerations to remember.
What are the rules and guidance you should follow, when you begin to think about how to write and structure a journal article? Ruth First Prize winner Steven Rogers, PhD said the first thing is to be passionate about what you write.
Steven Nabieu Rogers, Ruth First Prize winner.
Let’s go through some of the best advice that will help you pinpoint the features of a journal article, and how to structure it into a compelling research paper.
Planning for your article
When planning to write your article, make sure it has a central message that you want to get across. This could be a novel aspect of methodology that you have in your PhD study, a new theory, or an interesting modification you have made to theory or a novel set of findings.
2018 NARST Award winner Marissa Rollnick advised that you should decide what this central focus is, then create a paper outline bearing in mind the need to:
Isolate a manageable size
Create a coherent story/argument
Make the argument self-standing
Target the journal readership
Change the writing conventions from that used in your thesis
Get familiar with the journal you want to submit to
It is a good idea to choose your target journal before you start to write your paper. Then you can tailor your writing to the journal’s requirements and readership, to increase your chances of acceptance.
When selecting your journal think about audience, purposes, what to write about and why. Decide the kind of article to write. Is it a report, position paper, critique or review? What makes your argument or research interesting? How might the paper add value to the field?
If you need more guidance on how to choose a journal, here is our guide to narrow your focus.
Once you’ve chosen your target journal, take the time to read a selection of articles already published – particularly focus on those that are relevant to your own research.
This can help you get an understanding of what the editors may be looking for, then you can guide your writing efforts.
The Think. Check. Submit. initiative provides tools to help you evaluate whether the journal you’re planning to send your work to is trustworthy.
The journal’s aims and scope is also an important resource to refer back to as you write your paper – use it to make sure your article aligns with what the journal is trying to accomplish.
Keep your message focused
The next thing you need to consider when writing your article is your target audience. Are you writing for a more general audience or is your audience experts in the same field as you? The journal you have chosen will give you more information on the type of audience that will read your work.
When you know your audience, focus on your main message to keep the attention of your readers. A lack of focus is a common problem and can get in the way of effective communication.
Stick to the point. The strongest journal articles usually have one point to make. They make that point powerfully, back it up with evidence, and position it within the field.
How to format and structure a journal article
The format and structure of a journal article is just as important as the content itself, it helps to clearly guide the reader through.
How do I format a journal article?
Individual journals will have their own specific formatting requirements, which you can find in the instructions for authors.
You can save time on formatting by downloading a template from our library of templates to apply to your article text. These templates are accepted by many of our journals. Also, a large number of our journals now offer format-free submission, which allows you to submit your paper without formatting your manuscript to meet that journal’s specific requirements.
General structure for writing an academic journal article
The title of your article is one of the first indicators readers will get of your research and concepts. It should be concise, accurate, and informative. You should include your most relevant keywords in your title, but avoid including abbreviations and formulae.
Keywords are an essential part of producing a journal article. When writing a journal article you must select keywords that you would like your article to rank for.
Keywords help potential readers to discover your article when conducting research using search engines.
The purpose of your abstract is to express the key points of your research, clearly and concisely. An abstract must always be well considered, as it is the primary element of your work that readers will come across.
An abstract should be a short paragraph (around 300 words) that summarizes the findings of your journal article. Ordinarily an abstract will be comprised of:
What your research is about
What methods have been used
What your main findings are
Acknowledgements can appear to be a small aspect of your journal article, however it is still important. This is where you acknowledge the individuals who do not qualify for co-authorship, but contributed to your article intellectually, financially, or in some other manner.
When you acknowledge someone in your academic texts, it gives you more integrity as a writer as it shows that you are not claiming other academic’s ideas as your own intellectual property. It can also aid your readers in their own research journeys.
An introduction is a pivotal part of the article writing process. An introduction not only introduces your topic and your stance on the topic, but it also (situates/contextualizes) your argument in the broader academic field.
The main body is where your main arguments and your evidence are located. Each paragraph will encapsulate a different notion and there will be clear linking between each paragraph.
Your conclusion should be an interpretation of your results, where you summarize all of the concepts that you introduced in the main body of the text in order of most to least important. No new concepts are to be introduced in this section.
References and citations
References and citations should be well balanced, current and relevant. Although every field is different, you should aim to cite references that are not more than 10 years old if possible. The studies you cite should be strongly related to your research question.
Clarity is key
Make your writing accessible by using clear language. Writing that is easy to read, is easier to understand too.
You may want to write for a global audience – to have your research reach the widest readership. Make sure you write in a way that will be understood by any reader regardless of their field or whether English is their first language.
Write your journal article with confidence, to give your reader certainty in your research. Make sure that you’ve described your methodology and approach; whilst it may seem obvious to you, it may not to your reader. And don’t forget to explain acronyms when they first appear.
Engage your audience. Go back to thinking about your audience; are they experts in your field who will easily follow technical language, or are they a lay audience who need the ideas presented in a simpler way?
Be aware of other literature in your field, and reference it
Make sure to tell your reader how your article relates to key work that’s already published. This doesn’t mean you have to review every piece of previous relevant literature, but show how you are building on previous work to avoid accidental plagiarism.
When you reference something, fully understand its relevance to your research so you can make it clear for your reader. Keep in mind that recent references highlight awareness of all the current developments in the literature that you are building on. This doesn’t mean you can’t include older references, just make sure it is clear why you’ve chosen to.
How old can my references be?
Your literature review should take into consideration the current state of the literature.
There is no specific timeline to consider. But note that your subject area may be a factor. Your colleagues may also be able to guide your decision.
Grasian Mkodzongi, Ruth First Prize Winner
Top tips to get you started
Communicate your unique point of view to stand out. You may be building on a concept already in existence, but you still need to have something new to say. Make sure you say it convincingly, and fully understand and reference what has gone before.
Professor Len Barton, Founding Editor of Disability and Society
Now you know the features of a journal article and how to construct it. This video is an extra resource to use with this guide to help you know what to think about before you write your journal article.
Expert help for your manuscript
Taylor & Francis Editing Services offers a full range of pre-submission manuscript preparation services to help you improve the quality of your manuscript and submit with confidence.
How to write your title and abstract
Journal manuscript layout guide
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Writing for publication, part 1 what makes a paper publishable (6:17).
Let's begin thinking about what makes a paper publishable by looking at a hypothetical paper, "Guppies Love Cheerios." Even with a set of valid, novel, and statistically significant findings, research isn't necessarily publishable. The work also needs to contribute to the human knowledge base in a meaningful way, and it always helps to relate the work in an interesting and compelling storyline.
Part 2 Common Reasons Articles are Rejected (or Accepted) (9:55)
An article can be rejected for eight basic reasons, according to Dr. Peter Thrower, editor-in-chief of Carbon :
- technical reasons (e.g., plagiarism, or not following the journal's Instructions for Authors).
- improper content for the journal's readership.
- incomplete work.
- procedural or statistical analysis flaws.
- Unjustified conclusions
- Incremental or insignificant work
- Marginally interesting to editors or readership
According to Elizabeth Zwaaf of Elsevier , there are also eight basic reasons your work would be accepted for publication, one of which is that your article tells a good story. Part 3 explains what is meant by that.
Part 3 How To Tell A Good "Story" In Your Article (10:00)
The "research story" of a publishable article is true, credible, and interesting. It should have a beginning, middle, and end, where each part leads the reader to keep reading. A conceptual framework for this kind of story looks like an hourglass. The top funnel sets the context of the research and identifies gaps in the knowledge that validates the purpose and questions of the work described in the new publication. With these concepts in mind, what advice could you offer to the author of "Guppies Love Cheerios?"
Part 4 Strategies for Selecting Journals for Submission (11:33)
Begin selecting an appropriate venue for a new article by taking inventory of journals cited by the papers you reference in your work. Instructions to Authors usually include Aim and Scope of the journal. Consider the following as well: the type of article you've written, the target audience, the types of papers each journal publishes, typical time from submission to publication, the "impact factor" of the journal, and publication models and costs to authors. Be wary of "fake journals" that solicit submissions and publish without valid peer review.
Part 5 The Writing Process - Prewriting and Abstract (11:37)
Start writing by following the Instructions for Authors for the journal you've selected. Writing and formatting your paper properly now will save a lot of time later. Another time-saving strategy is to use RefWorks (available free to UNL personnel) or another reference manager to track your resources, format your citations; many of these resources also provide tips on assigning authorship, and writing titles, keywords, abstracts, and cover letters.
Part 6 How Will You Write The Cover Letter? (4:44)
A good way to organize your thoughts—and tell your research story—is as follows:
- address your general topic to provide your readers context for your work;
- describe a problem circumscribed by the topic at hand and explain why it's important;
- present your solution to the problem; and
- explain the attendant benefits of your findings with respect to the described problem.
This approach is especially helpful in writing a submission letter to the editor of the journal. In addition, be sure to follow the journal's Instructions to Authors to prepare your letter.
Part 7 The Scholarly Publication Process (4:08)
Submitting your manuscript to your chosen journal will be relatively straightforward if you're prepared according to the suggestions in this seminar and the Instructions to Authors. You'll almost certainly submit your materials online. Clicking Submit will set in motion a review process with one of the following results. Your manuscript will be
- accepted as-is for publication (not likely, but it's possible);
- accepted, with revisions;
- rejected, with chance to resubmit; or
What you do now as the author is the subject of the next video.
Part 8 Dealing Effectively With Reviewers' Reports (8:12)
You've heard back from the editor and your reviewers have suggested some revisions. It happens to everyone, so it's best to address the suggestions objectively and respond effectively. This video provides some ways to do that.
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What Is Academic Writing? | Dos and Don’ts for Students
Academic writing is a formal style of writing used in universities and scholarly publications. You’ll encounter it in journal articles and books on academic topics, and you’ll be expected to write your essays , research papers , and dissertation in academic style.
Academic writing follows the same writing process as other types of texts, but it has specific conventions in terms of content, structure and style.
Table of contents
Types of academic writing, academic writing is…, academic writing is not…, useful tools for academic writing, academic writing checklist.
Academics mostly write texts intended for publication, such as journal articles, reports, books, and chapters in edited collections. For students, the most common types of academic writing assignments are listed below.
Different fields of study have different priorities in terms of the writing they produce. For example, in scientific writing it’s crucial to clearly and accurately report methods and results; in the humanities, the focus is on constructing convincing arguments through the use of textual evidence. However, most academic writing shares certain key principles intended to help convey information as effectively as possible.
Whether your goal is to pass your degree, apply to graduate school , or build an academic career, effective writing is an essential skill.
Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
Formal and unbiased.
Academic writing aims to convey information in an impartial way. The goal is to base arguments on the evidence under consideration, not the author’s preconceptions. All claims should be supported with relevant evidence, not just asserted.
To avoid bias, it’s important to represent the work of other researchers and the results of your own research fairly and accurately. This means clearly outlining your methodology and being honest about the limitations of your research.
The formal style used in academic writing ensures that research is presented consistently across different texts, so that studies can be objectively assessed and compared with other research.
Because of this, it’s important to strike the right tone with your language choices. Avoid informal language , including slang, contractions , clichés, and conversational phrases:
- Also , a lot of the findings are a little unreliable.
- Moreover , many of the findings are somewhat unreliable.
Clear and precise
It’s important to use clear and precise language to ensure that your reader knows exactly what you mean. This means being as specific as possible and avoiding vague language :
- People have been interested in this thing for a long time .
- Researchers have been interested in this phenomenon for at least 10 years .
Avoid hedging your claims with words like “perhaps,” as this can give the impression that you lack confidence in your arguments. Reflect on your word choice to ensure it accurately and directly conveys your meaning:
- This could perhaps suggest that…
- This suggests that…
Specialist language or jargon is common and often necessary in academic writing, which generally targets an audience of other academics in related fields.
However, jargon should be used to make your writing more concise and accurate, not to make it more complicated. A specialist term should be used when:
- It conveys information more precisely than a comparable non-specialist term.
- Your reader is likely to be familiar with the term.
- The term is commonly used by other researchers in your field.
The best way to familiarize yourself with the kind of jargon used in your field is to read papers by other researchers and pay attention to their language.
Focused and well structured
An academic text is not just a collection of ideas about a topic—it needs to have a clear purpose. Start with a relevant research question or thesis statement , and use it to develop a focused argument. Only include information that is relevant to your overall purpose.
A coherent structure is crucial to organize your ideas. Pay attention to structure at three levels: the structure of the whole text, paragraph structure, and sentence structure.
Academic writing uses sources to support its claims. Sources are other texts (or media objects like photographs or films) that the author analyzes or uses as evidence. Many of your sources will be written by other academics; academic writing is collaborative and builds on previous research.
It’s important to consider which sources are credible and appropriate to use in academic writing. For example, citing Wikipedia is typically discouraged. Don’t rely on websites for information; instead, use academic databases and your university library to find credible sources.
You must always cite your sources in academic writing. This means acknowledging whenever you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work by including a citation in the text and a reference list at the end.
There are many different citation styles with different rules. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago . Make sure to consistently follow whatever style your institution requires. If you don’t cite correctly, you may get in trouble for plagiarism . A good plagiarism checker can help you catch any issues before it’s too late.
You can easily create accurate citations in APA or MLA style using our Citation Generators.
APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator
Correct and consistent
As well as following the rules of grammar, punctuation, and citation, it’s important to consistently apply stylistic conventions regarding:
- How to write numbers
- Introducing abbreviations
- Using verb tenses in different sections
- Capitalization of terms and headings
- Spelling and punctuation differences between UK and US English
In some cases there are several acceptable approaches that you can choose between—the most important thing is to apply the same rules consistently and to carefully proofread your text before you submit. If you don’t feel confident in your own proofreading abilities, you can get help from Scribbr’s professional proofreading services or Grammar Checker .
Academic writing generally tries to avoid being too personal. Information about the author may come in at some points—for example in the acknowledgements or in a personal reflection—but for the most part the text should focus on the research itself.
Always avoid addressing the reader directly with the second-person pronoun “you.” Use the impersonal pronoun “one” or an alternate phrasing instead for generalizations:
- As a teacher, you must treat your students fairly.
- As a teacher, one must treat one’s students fairly.
- Teachers must treat their students fairly.
The use of the first-person pronoun “I” used to be similarly discouraged in academic writing, but it is increasingly accepted in many fields. If you’re unsure whether to use the first person, pay attention to conventions in your field or ask your instructor.
When you refer to yourself, it should be for good reason. You can position yourself and describe what you did during the research, but avoid arbitrarily inserting your personal thoughts and feelings:
- In my opinion…
- I think that…
- I like/dislike…
- I conducted interviews with…
- I argue that…
- I hope to achieve…
Many students think their writing isn’t academic unless it’s over-complicated and long-winded. This isn’t a good approach—instead, aim to be as concise and direct as possible.
If a term can be cut or replaced with a more straightforward one without affecting your meaning, it should be. Avoid redundant phrasings in your text, and try replacing phrasal verbs with their one-word equivalents where possible:
- Interest in this phenomenon carried on in the year 2018 .
- Interest in this phenomenon continued in 2018 .
Repetition is a part of academic writing—for example, summarizing earlier information in the conclusion—but it’s important to avoid unnecessary repetition. Make sure that none of your sentences are repeating a point you’ve already made in different words.
Emotive and grandiose
An academic text is not the same thing as a literary, journalistic, or marketing text. Though you’re still trying to be persuasive, a lot of techniques from these styles are not appropriate in an academic context. Specifically, you should avoid appeals to emotion and inflated claims.
Though you may be writing about a topic that’s sensitive or important to you, the point of academic writing is to clearly communicate ideas, information, and arguments, not to inspire an emotional response. Avoid using emotive or subjective language :
- This horrible tragedy was obviously one of the worst catastrophes in construction history.
- The injury and mortality rates of this accident were among the highest in construction history.
Students are sometimes tempted to make the case for their topic with exaggerated , unsupported claims and flowery language. Stick to specific, grounded arguments that you can support with evidence, and don’t overstate your point:
- Charles Dickens is the greatest writer of the Victorian period, and his influence on all subsequent literature is enormous.
- Charles Dickens is one of the best-known writers of the Victorian period and has had a significant influence on the development of the English novel.
There are a a lot of writing tools that will make your writing process faster and easier. We’ll highlight three of them below.
AI writing tools like ChatGPT and a paraphrasing tool can help you rewrite text so that your ideas are clearer, you don’t repeat yourself, and your writing has a consistent tone.
They can also help you write more clearly about sources without having to quote them directly. Be warned, though: it’s still crucial to give credit to all sources in the right way to prevent plagiarism .
Writing tools that scan your text for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. When it detects a mistake the grammar checke r will give instant feedback and suggest corrections. Helping you write clearly and avoid common mistakes .
You can use a summarizer if you want to condense text into its most important and useful ideas. With a summarizer tool, you can make it easier to understand complicated sources. You can also use the tool to make your research question clearer and summarize your main argument.
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Use the checklist below to assess whether you have followed the rules of effective academic writing.
- Checklist: Academic writing
I avoid informal terms and contractions .
I avoid second-person pronouns (“you”).
I avoid emotive or exaggerated language.
I avoid redundant words and phrases.
I avoid unnecessary jargon and define terms where needed.
I present information as precisely and accurately as possible.
I use appropriate transitions to show the connections between my ideas.
My text is logically organized using paragraphs .
Each paragraph is focused on a single idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .
Every part of the text relates to my central thesis or research question .
I support my claims with evidence.
I use the appropriate verb tenses in each section.
I consistently use either UK or US English .
I format numbers consistently.
I cite my sources using a consistent citation style .
Your text follows the most important rules of academic style. Make sure it's perfect with the help of a Scribbr editor!
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- Int J Sports Phys Ther
- v.7(5); 2012 Oct
HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE
Barbara j. hoogenboom.
1 Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Robert C. Manske
2 University of Wichita, Wichita, KS, USA
Successful production of a written product for submission to a peer‐reviewed scientific journal requires substantial effort. Such an effort can be maximized by following a few simple suggestions when composing/creating the product for submission. By following some suggested guidelines and avoiding common errors, the process can be streamlined and success realized for even beginning/novice authors as they negotiate the publication process. The purpose of this invited commentary is to offer practical suggestions for achieving success when writing and submitting manuscripts to The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy and other professional journals.
“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” Albert Einstein
Conducting scientific and clinical research is only the beginning of the scholarship of discovery. In order for the results of research to be accessible to other professionals and have a potential effect on the greater scientific community, it must be written and published. Most clinical and scientific discovery is published in peer‐reviewed journals, which are those that utilize a process by which an author's peers, or experts in the content area, evaluate the manuscript. Following this review the manuscript is recommended for publication, revision or rejection. It is the rigor of this review process that makes scientific journals the primary source of new information that impacts clinical decision‐making and practice. 1 , 2
The task of writing a scientific paper and submitting it to a journal for publication is a time‐consuming and often daunting task. 3 , 4 Barriers to effective writing include lack of experience, poor writing habits, writing anxiety, unfamiliarity with the requirements of scholarly writing, lack of confidence in writing ability, fear of failure, and resistance to feedback. 5 However, the very process of writing can be a helpful tool for promoting the process of scientific thinking, 6 , 7 and effective writing skills allow professionals to participate in broader scientific conversations. Furthermore, peer review manuscript publication systems requiring these technical writing skills can be developed and improved with practice. 8 Having an understanding of the process and structure used to produce a peer‐reviewed publication will surely improve the likelihood that a submitted manuscript will result in a successful publication.
Clear communication of the findings of research is essential to the growth and development of science 3 and professional practice. The culmination of the publication process provides not only satisfaction for the researcher and protection of intellectual property, but also the important function of dissemination of research results, new ideas, and alternate thought; which ultimately facilitates scholarly discourse. In short, publication of scientific papers is one way to advance evidence‐based practice in many disciplines, including sports physical therapy. Failure to publish important findings significantly diminishes the potential impact that those findings may have on clinical practice. 9
BASICS OF MANUSCRIPT PREPARATION & GENERAL WRITING TIPS
To begin it might be interesting to learn why reviewers accept manuscripts! Reviewers consider the following five criteria to be the most important in decisions about whether to accept manuscripts for publication: 1) the importance, timeliness, relevance, and prevalence of the problem addressed; 2) the quality of the writing style (i.e., that it is well‐written, clear, straightforward, easy to follow, and logical); 3) the study design applied (i.e., that the design was appropriate, rigorous, and comprehensive); 4) the degree to which the literature review was thoughtful, focused, and up‐to‐date; and 5) the use of a sufficiently large sample. 10 For these statements to be true there are also reasons that reviewers reject manuscripts. The following are the top five reasons for rejecting papers: 1) inappropriate, incomplete, or insufficiently described statistics; 2) over‐interpretation of results; 3) use of inappropriate, suboptimal, or insufficiently described populations or instruments; 4) small or biased samples; and 5) text that is poorly written or difficult to follow. 10 , 11 With these reasons for acceptance or rejection in mind, it is time to review basics and general writing tips to be used when performing manuscript preparation.
“Begin with the end in mind” . When you begin writing about your research, begin with a specific target journal in mind. 12 Every scientific journal should have specific lists of manuscript categories that are preferred for their readership. The IJSPT seeks to provide readership with current information to enhance the practice of sports physical therapy. Therefore the manuscript categories accepted by IJSPT include: Original research; Systematic reviews of literature; Clinical commentary and Current concept reviews; Case reports; Clinical suggestions and unique practice techniques; and Technical notes. Once a decision has been made to write a manuscript, compose an outline that complies with the requirements of the target submission journal and has each of the suggested sections. This means carefully checking the submission criteria and preparing your paper in the exact format of the journal to which you intend to submit. Be thoughtful about the distinction between content (what you are reporting) and structure (where it goes in the manuscript). Poor placement of content confuses the reader (reviewer) and may cause misinterpretation of content. 3 , 5
It may be helpful to follow the IMRaD format for writing scientific manuscripts. This acronym stands for the sections contained within the article: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each of these areas of the manuscript will be addressed in this commentary.
Many accomplished authors write their results first, followed by an introduction and discussion, in an attempt to “stay true” to their results and not stray into additional areas. Typically the last two portions to be written are the conclusion and the abstract.
The ability to accurately describe ideas, protocols/procedures, and outcomes are the pillars of scientific writing . Accurate and clear expression of your thoughts and research information should be the primary goal of scientific writing. 12 Remember that accuracy and clarity are even more important when trying to get complicated ideas across. Contain your literature review, ideas, and discussions to your topic, theme, model, review, commentary, or case. Avoid vague terminology and too much prose. Use short rather than long sentences. If jargon has to be utilized keep it to a minimum and explain the terms you do use clearly. 13
Write with a measure of formality, using scientific language and avoiding conjunctions, slang, and discipline or regionally specific nomenclature or terms (e.g. exercise nicknames). For example, replace the term “Monster walks” with “closed‐chain hip abduction with elastic resistance around the thighs”. You may later refer to the exercise as “also known as Monster walks” if you desire.
Avoid first person language and instead write using third person language. Some journals do not ascribe to this requirement, and allow first person references, however, IJSPT prefers use of third person. For example, replace “We determined that…” with “The authors determined that….”.
For novice writers, it is really helpful to seek a reading mentor that will help you pre‐read your submission. Problems such as improper use of grammar, tense, and spelling are often a cause of rejection by reviewers. Despite the content of the study these easily fixed errors suggest that the authors created the manuscript with less thought leading reviewers to think that the manuscript may also potentially have erroneous findings as well. A review from a second set of trained eyes will often catch these errors missed by the original authors. If English is not your first language, the editorial staff at IJSPT suggests that you consult with someone with the relevant expertise to give you guidance on English writing conventions, verb tense, and grammar. Excellent writing in English is hard, even for those of us for whom it is our first language!
Use figures and graphics to your advantage . ‐ Consider the use of graphic/figure representation of data and important procedures or exercises. Tables should be able to stand alone and be completely understandable at a quick glance. Understanding a table should not require careful review of the manuscript! Figures dramatically enhance the graphic appeal of a scientific paper. Many formats for graphic presentation are acceptable, including graphs, charts, tables, and pictures or videos. Photographs should be clear, free of clutter or extraneous background distractions and be taken with models wearing simple clothing. Color photographs are preferred. Digital figures (Scans or existing files as well as new photographs) must be at least 300dpi. All photographs should be provided as separate files (jpeg or tif preferred) and not be embedded in the paper. Quality and clarity of figures are essential for reproduction purposes and should be considered before taking images for the manuscript.
A video of an exercise or procedure speaks a thousand words. Please consider using short video clips as descriptive additions to your paper. They will be placed on the IJSPT website and accompany your paper. The video clips must be submitted in MPEG‐1, MPEG‐2, Quicktime (.mov), or Audio/Video Interface (.avi) formats. Maximum cumulative length of videos is 5 minutes. Each video segment may not exceed 50 MB, and each video clip must be saved as a separate file and clearly identified. Formulate descriptive figure/video and Table/chart/graph titles and place them on a figure legend document. Carefully consider placement of, naming of, and location of figures. It makes the job of the editors much easier!
Avoid Plagiarism and inadvertent lack of citations. Finally, use citations to your benefit. Cite frequently in order to avoid any plagiarism. The bottom line: If it is not your original idea, give credit where credit is due . When using direct quotations, provide not only the number of the citation, but the page where the quote was found. All citations should appear in text as a superscripted number followed by punctuation. It is the authors' responsibility to fully ensure all references are cited in completed form, in an accurate location. Please carefully follow the instructions for citations and check that all references in your reference list are cited in the paper and that all citations in the paper appear correctly in the reference list. Please go to IJSPT submission guidelines for full information on the format for citations.
Sometimes written as an afterthought, the abstract is of extreme importance as in many instances this section is what is initially previewed by readership to determine if the remainder of the article is worth reading. This is the authors opportunity to draw the reader into the study and entice them to read the rest of the article. The abstract is a summary of the article or study written in 3 rd person allowing the readers to get a quick glance of what the contents of the article include. Writing an abstract is rather challenging as being brief, accurate and concise are requisite. The headings and structure for an abstract are usually provided in the instructions for authors. In some instances, the abstract may change slightly pending content revisions required during the peer review process. Therefore it often works well to complete this portion of the manuscript last. Remember the abstract should be able to stand alone and should be as succinct as possible. 14
Introduction and Review of Literature
The introduction is one of the more difficult portions of the manuscript to write. Past studies are used to set the stage or provide the reader with information regarding the necessity of the represented project. For an introduction to work properly, the reader must feel that the research question is clear, concise, and worthy of study.
A competent introduction should include at least four key concepts: 1) significance of the topic, 2) the information gap in the available literature associated with the topic, 3) a literature review in support of the key questions, 4) subsequently developed purposes/objectives and hypotheses. 9
When constructing a review of the literature, be attentive to “sticking” or “staying true” to your topic at hand. Don't reach or include too broad of a literature review. For example, do not include extraneous information about performance or prevention if your research does not actually address those things. The literature review of a scientific paper is not an exhaustive review of all available knowledge in a given field of study. That type of thorough review should be left to review articles or textbook chapters. Throughout the introduction (and later in the discussion!) remind yourself that a paper, existing evidence, or results of a paper cannot draw conclusions, demonstrate, describe, or make judgments, only PEOPLE (authors) can. “The evidence demonstrates that” should be stated, “Smith and Jones, demonstrated that….”
Conclude your introduction with a solid statement of your purpose(s) and your hypothesis(es), as appropriate. The purpose and objectives should clearly relate to the information gap associated with the given manuscript topic discussed earlier in the introduction section. This may seem repetitive, but it actually is helpful to ensure the reader clearly sees the evolution, importance, and critical aspects of the study at hand See Table 1 for examples of well‐stated purposes.
Examples of well-stated purposes by submission type.
The methods section should clearly describe the specific design of the study and provide clear and concise description of the procedures that were performed. The purpose of sufficient detail in the methods section is so that an appropriately trained person would be able to replicate your experiments. 15 There should be complete transparency when describing the study. To assist in writing and manuscript preparation there are several checklists or guidelines that are available on the IJSPT website. The CONSORT guidelines can be used when developing and reporting a randomized controlled trial. 16 The STARD checklist was developed for designing a diagnostic accuracy study. 17 The PRISMA checklist was developed for use when performing a meta‐analyses or systematic review. 18 A clear methods section should contain the following information: 1) the population and equipment used in the study, 2) how the population and equipment were prepared and what was done during the study, 3) the protocol used, 4) the outcomes and how they were measured, 5) the methods used for data analysis. Initially a brief paragraph should explain the overall procedures and study design. Within this first paragraph there is generally a description of inclusion and exclusion criteria which help the reader understand the population used. Paragraphs that follow should describe in more detail the procedures followed for the study. A clear description of how data was gathered is also helpful. For example were data gathered prospectively or retrospectively? Who if anyone was blinded, and where and when was the actual data collected?
Although it is a good idea for the authors to have justification and a rationale for their procedures, these should be saved for inclusion into the discussion section, not to be discussed in the methods section. However, occasionally studies supporting components of the methods section such as reliability of tests, or validation of outcome measures may be included in the methods section.
The final portion of the methods section will include the statistical methods used to analyze the data. 19 This does not mean that the actual results should be discussed in the methods section, as they have an entire section of their own!
Most scientific journals support the need for all projects involving humans or animals to have up‐to‐date documentation of ethical approval. 20 The methods section should include a clear statement that the researchers have obtained approval from an appropriate institutional review board.
Results, Discussion, and Conclusions
In most journals the results section is separate from the discussion section. It is important that you clearly distinguish your results from your discussion. The results section should describe the results only. The discussion section should put those results into a broader context. Report your results neutrally, as you “found them”. Again, be thoughtful about content and structure. Think carefully about where content is placed in the overall structure of your paper. It is not appropriate to bring up additional results, not discussed in the results section, in the discussion. All results must first be described/presented and then discussed. Thus, the discussion should not simply be a repeat of the results section. Carefully discuss where your information is similar or different from other published evidence and why this might be so. What was different in methods or analysis, what was similar?
As previously stated, stick to your topic at hand, and do not overstretch your discussion! One of the major pitfalls in writing the discussion section is overstating the significance of your findings 4 or making very strong statements. For example, it is better to say: “Findings of the current study support….” or “these findings suggest…” than, “Findings of the current study prove that…” or “this means that….”. Maintain a sense of humbleness, as nothing is without question in the outcomes of any type of research, in any discipline! Use words like “possibly”, “likely” or “suggests” to soften findings. 12
Do not discuss extraneous ideas, concepts, or information not covered by your topic/paper/commentary. Be sure to carefully address all relevant results, not just the statistically significant ones or the ones that support your hypotheses. When you must resort to speculation or opinion, be certain to state that up front using phrases such as “we therefore speculate” or “in the authors' opinion”.
Remember, just as in the introduction and literature review, evidence or results cannot draw conclusions, just as previously stated, only people, scientists, researchers, and authors can!
Finish with a concise, 3‐5 sentence conclusion paragraph. This is not just a restatement of your results, rather is comprised of some final, summative statements that reflect the flow and outcomes of the entire paper. Do not include speculative statements or additional material; however, based upon your findings a statement about potential changes in clinical practice or future research opportunities can be provided here.
Writing for publication can be a challenging yet satisfying endeavor. The ability to examine, relate, and interlink evidence, as well as to provide a peer‐reviewed, disseminated product of your research labors can be rewarding. A few suggestions have been offered in this commentary that may assist the novice or the developing writer to attempt, polish, and perfect their approach to scholarly writing.
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Writing a paper for publication
Finding and positioning your argument.
This resource provides a brief introduction to this topic, which should take you 15-20 minutes to complete. It includes activities to help you apply tips to your own context and reflect on your learning. Check out the further resources and references provided for further information on the topic.
Writing a paper for publication allows you to communicate a central argument of your research problem. This video introduces some key considerations for writing a paper for publication.
The following activity will take you through tips for choosing a journal and establishing your contribution. You can fill in your answers as you go and download them at the end.
You can also try the following tips:
- Pitch your idea aloud to a real or imagined audience in 1-3 minutes to see if your argument is clear to yourself and others.
- Imagine your paper being cited in a sentence or two in another author's literature review on your topic (Thomson & Kamler, 2013). What point or contribution would you like to be remembered for?
- Use your abstract to work on shaping your argument. Refer to the ‘ Title and abstract ’ section for more information.
The Library’s journal selection guide
Writing for publication – finding an angle and an argument
Use the menu to go the next section: Planning your paper , where we explore article types and an article mapping tool.
Planning your paper
Once you’ve formed your argument and related it to your target journal, it’s time to create a plan for your paper. This will help you a lot in the writing stage.
In your planning, consider what type of paper you’re going to write based on the type of material you have on your topic. Deciding the type of article you write will help you to determine its structure. Different journals may accept different article types, but there are generally four main publication focuses:
- Empirical paper Usually follows an IMRAD structure (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) or some variation of this
- Review paper Includes literature reviews, systematic reviews and other reviews
- 'Think piece' / theoretical paper Focuses on discussing an idea conceptually
- Modelling paper Proposes and justifies a new model for solving a problem based on research
These types of paper differ in focus rather than exclusive content. Some papers strike a balance between these focuses and are therefore harder to categorise. You just need to be aware of these choices and which paper type your piece is leaning toward.
Examples of the four article types and their structures are given in the 'Title and abstract' section.
Mapping your writing
Watch this video to find out how to plan your paper using an article mapping template, then download the template below.
Download the article mapping template (Word Doc)
Use the menu to go the next section: Title and abstract , where we look at writing an effective article title and abstract.
Title and abstract
Your article will need an effective title and abstract to be retrieved easily through search programs and to appeal to your readers. These are usually the most read parts of your paper.
Watch the following video for practical tips and examples to help you write your title and abstract.
The following sample abstracts illustrate how different types of academic paper could be structured. Complete this activity to discover a structure you can use in your own work. Choose the paper type you're interested in from the accordions below then follow the instructions to complete the activity.
*If content does not display below, refresh your browser.
(adapted from Richardson et al., 2016)
(adapted from Shadiev & Sintawati, 2020)
(adapted from Raamsdonk, 2018)
(adapted from Osberg & Biesta, 2010)
Use the module menu to go the next section: Writing your paper , where we look at effective writing strategies for publication.
Writing your paper
The writing stage is exciting! It’s where you can see your ideas coming to life. However, getting started and staying focused can be challenging. The following tips will help you to avoid procrastination and stay on track.
- Set up systems to help you keep going, e.g. ‘write 300-1000 words a day five days a week’ or ‘complete at least 300 words before I do any reading or check emails’. Having a system, however modest, can sustain writing over time.
- Try generative writing techniques, which involve writing continuously without correction or judgement for a short interval or writing to prompts, such as 'My key findings are...' , to get your ideas flowing.
- Try to avoid perfectionism – initially, getting the writing done is more important than getting it perfect. You might find that the act of writing offloads and clarifies your ideas and helps you structure them much better than thinking alone.
- Consider approaching your colleagues or peers to set up a writing group that meets to work quietly for a set length of time, e.g. 25 minutes, then breaks for 5 minutes for a social discussion between writing blocks.
- Use read-to-write strategies: Look through some recent publications in your target journal to observe how they are put together – notice the typical structures, writing moves and terminology used. This awareness can help you to attune your paper to the journal’s expectations or deviate from them in an informed, justified way. Understanding the conventional way of writing in the journal also helps you to balance ‘convention and novelty’ (Patriotta, 2017) in joining and adding to the conversation.
- Signpost your ideas throughout to help your readers navigate your writing. You can use the Academic Phrasebank to choose signposting expressions for different sections of your paper.
- You may need to refine your paper multiple times, with a different focus each time: content, organisation and structure, writing style and language expression.
- Writing can be a fun and social activity. Try to get support and feedback from trusted peers, supervisors, mentors or advisers during the writing process as this can boost your confidence and give you the reader’s perspective.
- Connecting to other graduate researchers can also help you to shape and test your ideas through engaging in scholarly dialogue. When published, your ideas will be in the public domain and become public good.
- As you write, imagine yourself as an authoritative writer speaking to your journal’s audience (Thomson & Kamler, 2013). This visualisation can help enhance your sense of authority and nurture a writer identity.
- Find a writing mate or join a writing group to review one another’s papers. This will not only give you feedback on your paper but also the experience of being a reader-reviewer of others’ work. This informal peer review experience can help prepare you for the more formal peer review process of a journal.
- If you’re co-authoring your paper, this can be a great opportunity to learn from others and become a collaborative writer. Setting clear parameters and establishing supportive relationships are key in co-authorship.
When asking for feedback, you can guide the person giving you feedback using these suggestions from Thomson and Kamler (2013, p. 173) by asking them to:
- Tell you their summary of your argument
- Tell you what point they think the article is trying to make
- Name two strengths of the paper
- Identify the most important improvement you should make to achieve the biggest 'gains' excluding spelling and grammar points.
Now, look at the current draft of your paper and answer the following questions to help you assess your own progress. You can download the list of questions and your answers on the last page of the activity.
How to write and structure a journal article
11 steps to structuring a science paper editors will take seriously
Looping – a free writing strategy for generating ideas
Writing for publication – some beginning strategies …
The perfect sentence vortex and how to escape it
(Scroll down to the bottom of the listing to access the blog entry titled 'The prefect sentence vortex and how to escape it')
Editing your writing
Learning to be a co-author
Use the menu to go the next section: Responding to peer reviews , where we explore strategies for the peer review process.
Responding to peer reviews
Peer review is a key part of the publication process. Blind reviewing means that you will be treated as an equal member in the field and that your paper will be judged based on its merits only.
Taking charge of your response
Most good journals use a peer review process to make sure what they publish has gone through high levels of scrutiny from academics in a field of research. To your readers, this means that your paper has met the publication standards of the journal.
After your paper has been read by an editor and deemed suitable for the journal, it will be sent to several (usually two) academics in your field to be reviewed.
The peer review process can take anywhere from a few months to a year, sometimes longer, depending on the journal. When you receive your reviewers’ reports, you will need to respond to them demonstrating that you have taken their suggestions onboard or explaining why you’ve decided not to follow some suggestions.
Reviewers may differ widely in their views and ways of giving feedback. Some are encouraging, while others can be directly critical. However, most reviewers invest their time and effort in giving feedback that they think will be useful to writers.
When responding to reviewers' reports:
- Try to take criticisms, even those you find challenging, as opportunities to develop as a writer and researcher. If you think some feedback is unfair or unhelpful, give reasonable explanations of what you have done instead of what was suggested.
- Don’t get carried away by the commentary. Focus instead on picking out suggested changes, or actionable items. You might find it useful to create a simple table listing the reviewers’ suggested changes in one column and your responses to these in another, indicating the evidence of each change and its page number.
Responding to peer reviews is an opportunity for you to argue your case further. When you’re responding to critique, it’s easy to ask the reactive question ‘How can I defend my position?’ but a more useful question might be: ‘How can I strengthen my argument?’ You can then incorporate strengthening elements in your paper to make the most of the peer review process.
To be able to do all this, you may need support from your peers, supervisors or other people you trust to give you advice. It’s a good idea to talk to them early on to help you understand and respond to peer reviews effectively.
Deciding on big revisions
To decide how best to respond to big change suggestions, think about:
- Scope: Is the suggested change within the scope I aim for?
- Quality: Will making the suggested change significantly improve the quality of my paper?
- Effort: What is an easier alternative to making the change suggested? E.g., can I add a few sentences to justify the methodology rather than changing it completely?
Writing a paper for publication is a challenging but rewarding process, from finding and positioning your argument, planning and writing your paper through to responding to peer reviews. Reflecting on your learning along the way will help you develop as a researcher, writer and contributing member of your scholarly community.
For more information and support in your writing, Explore: Academic Skills Graduate Research services
Osberg, D., & Biesta, G. (2010). The end/s of education: Complexity and the conundrum of the inclusive educational curriculum. International Journal of Inclusive Education , 14 (6), 593–607. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110802530684
Patriotta, G. (2017). Crafting papers for publication: Novelty and convention in academic writing. Journal of Management Studies , 54 (5), 747–759. https://doi.org/doi: 10.1111/joms.12280
Raamsdonk, J. (2018). Mechanisms underlying longevity: A genetic switch model of aging. Experimental Gerontology , 107 , 136–139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2017.08.005
Richardson, J., Gauert, A., Briones Montecinos, L., Fanlo, L., Alhashem, Z. M., Assar, R., Marti, E., Kabla, A., Härtel, S., & Linker, C. (2016). Leader cells define directionality of trunk, but not cranial, neural crest cell migration. Cell Rep , 15 (9), 2076–2088. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2016.04.067
Shadiev, R., & Sintawati, W. (2020). A review of research on intercultural learning supported by technology. Educational Research Review , 31 , 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2020.100338
Steinbok, P. (1995). Ethical considerations relating to writing a medical scientific paper for publication. Child’s Nervous System , 11 (6), 323–328.
Stommel, W., & de Rijk, L. (2021). Ethical approval: None sought. How discourse analysts report ethical issues around publicly available online data. Research Ethics , 17 (3), 275–297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747016120988767
Thomson, P. (2018). Writing for publication—Some beginning strategies. Patter . https://patthomson.net/2018/06/18/writing-for-publication-some-generative-strategies%e2%80%8b-to-begin/
Thomson, P., & Kamler, B. (2013). Writing for peer reviewed journals: Strategies for getting published . Routledge.
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Writing for an academic journal: 10 tips
1) Have a strategy, make a plan
Why do you want to write for journals? What is your purpose? Are you writing for research assessment? Or to make a difference? Are you writing to have an impact factor or to have an impact? Do you want to develop a profile in a specific area? Will this determine which journals you write for? Have you taken their impact factors into account?
Have you researched other researchers in your field – where have they published recently? Which group or conversation can you see yourself joining? Some people write the paper first and then look for a 'home' for it, but since everything in your article – content, focus, structure, style – will be shaped for a specific journal, save yourself time by deciding on your target journal and work out how to write in a way that suits that journal.
Having a writing strategy means making sure you have both external drivers – such as scoring points in research assessment or climbing the promotion ladder – and internal drivers – which means working out why writing for academic journals matters to you. This will help you maintain the motivation you'll need to write and publish over the long term. Since the time between submission and publication can be up to two years (though in some fields it's much less) you need to be clear about your motivation.
2) Analyse writing in journals in your field
Take a couple of journals in your field that you will target now or soon. Scan all the abstracts over the past few issues. Analyse them: look closely at all first and last sentences. The first sentence (usually) gives the rationale for the research, and the last asserts a 'contribution to knowledge'. But the word 'contribution' may not be there – it's associated with the doctorate. So which words are used? What constitutes new knowledge in this journal at this time? How can you construct a similar form of contribution from the work you did? What two sentences will you write to start and end your abstract for that journal?
Scan other sections of the articles: how are they structured? What are the components of the argument? Highlight all the topic sentences – the first sentences of every paragraph – to show the stages in the argument. Can you see an emerging taxonomy of writing genres in this journal? Can you define the different types of paper, different structures and decide which one will work best in your paper? Select two types of paper: one that's the type of paper you can use as a model for yours, and one that you can cite in your paper, thereby joining the research conversation that is ongoing in that journal.
3) Do an outline and just write
Which type of writer are you: do you always do an outline before you write, or do you just dive in and start writing? Or do you do a bit of both? Both outlining and just writing are useful, and it is therefore a good idea to use both. However, make your outline very detailed: outline the main sections and calibrate these with your target journal.
What types of headings are normally used there? How long are the sections usually? Set word limits for your sections, sub-sections and, if need be, for sub-sub-sections. This involves deciding about content that you want to include, so it may take time, and feedback would help at this stage.
When you sit down to write, what exactly are you doing:using writing to develop your ideas or writing to document your work? Are you using your outline as an agenda for writing sections of your article? Define your writing task by thinking about verbs – they define purpose: to summarise, overview, critique, define, introduce, conclude etc.
4) Get feedback from start to finish
Even at the earliest stages, discuss your idea for a paper with four or five people, get feedback on your draft abstract. It will only take them a couple of minutes to read it and respond. Do multiple revisions before you submit your article to the journal.
5) Set specific writing goals and sub-goals
Making your writing goals specific means defining the content, verb and word length for the section. This means not having a writing goal like, 'I plan to have this article written by the end of the year' but 'My next writing goal is to summarise and critique twelve articles for the literature review section in 800 words on Tuesday between 9am and 10.30'. Some people see this as too mechanical for academic writing, but it is a way of forcing yourself to make decisions about content, sequence and proportion for your article.
6) Write with others
While most people see writing as a solitary activity, communal writing – writing with others who are writing – can help to develop confidence, fluency and focus. It can help you develop the discipline of regular writing. Doing your academic writing in groups or at writing retreats are ways of working on your own writing, but – if you unplug from email, internet and all other devices – also developing the concentration needed for regular, high-level academic writing.
At some point – ideally at regular intervals – you can get a lot more done if you just focus on writing. If this seems like common sense, it isn't common practice. Most people do several things at once, but this won't always work for regular journal article writing. At some point, it pays to privilege writing over all other tasks, for a defined period, such as 90 minutes, which is long enough to get something done on your paper, but not so long that it's impossible to find the time.
7) Do a warm up before you write
While you are deciding what you want to write about, an initial warm up that works is to write for five minutes, in sentences, in answer to the question: 'What writing for publication have you done [or the closest thing to it], and what do you want to do in the long, medium and short term?'
Once you have started writing your article, use a variation on this question as a warm up – what writing for this project have you done, and what do you want to do in the long, medium and short term? Top tip: end each session of writing with a 'writing instruction' for yourself to use in your next session, for example, 'on Monday from 9 to 10am, I will draft the conclusion section in 500 words'.
As discussed, if there are no numbers, there are no goals. Goals that work need to be specific, and you need to monitor the extent to which you achieve them. This is how you learn to set realistic targets.
8) Analyse reviewers' feedback on your submission
What exactly are they asking you to do? Work out whether they want you to add or cut something. How much? Where? Write out a list of revision actions. When you resubmit your article include this in your report to the journal, specifying how you have responded to the reviewers' feedback. If your article was rejected, it is still useful to analyse feedback, work out why and revise it for somewhere else.
Most feedback will help you improve your paper and, perhaps, your journal article writing, but sometimes it may seem overheated, personalised or even vindictive. Some of it may even seem unprofessional. Discuss reviewers' feedback – see what others think of it. You may find that other people – even eminent researchers – still get rejections and negative reviews; any non-rejection is a cause for celebration. Revise and resubmit as soon as you can.
9) Be persistent, thick-skinned and resilient
These are qualities that you may develop over time – or you may already have them. It may be easier to develop them in discussion with others who are writing for journals.
10) Take care of yourself
Writing for academic journals is highly competitive. It can be extremely stressful. Even making time to write can be stressful. And there are health risks in sitting for long periods, so try not to sit writing for more than an hour at a time. Finally, be sure to celebrate thoroughly when your article is accepted. Remind yourself that writing for academic journals is what you want to do – that your writing will make a difference in some way.
These points are taken from the 3rd edition of Writing for Academic Journals .
Rowena Murray is professor in education and director of research at the University of the West of Scotland – follow it on Twitter @UniWestScotland
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Journal Article Publication Letters
What is this handout about.
This handout offers guidance on how to write a cover letter for submitting journal manuscripts for publication.
What is a journal publication letter?
A journal publication letter, also known as a journal article submission cover letter, is a cover letter written to a peer-reviewed journal to advocate for the publication of a manuscript. Not all journals ask for a publication letter. Some see publication letters as optional, but many peer-reviewed academic journals request or require them.
What do journal publication letters typically contain?
The most basic information included in a publication letter is contact information, the name of the author(s), the title of the manuscript, and either the assurance that the manuscript being submitted has not been submitted elsewhere or a statement regarding any places the manuscript may be available. Some journals may also expect you to briefly explain your argument, outline your methodology or theoretical commitments, discus permissions and funding, and explain how your manuscript fits into the overall aims of the journal. Journals may even request the names of two or three suggested reviewers for your manuscript. A journal may require all, none, or some of this additional information. The above list is not exhaustive, but it highlights the importance of knowing the journal’s conventions and expectations.
How should I prepare to write?
Just as with any other writing project, writing publication letters involves a process. Although you may finish in as little as a few hours or a day, you might take longer if you compose multiple drafts. This section is designed to help you think through the various steps of the writing process.
Previously, we mentioned the importance of knowing the journal’s standards, but you may not find those expectations laid out clearly on the journal’s website. In fact, most journals assume that the scholars who submit a letter are well-versed in the journal’s mission. Below are some strategies for helping you determine the expectations for journal article publication letters.
Consider the standards in your field:
- See if your field’s top journals require a letter.
- Ask your advisor or mentor about their standard practices.
- Ask someone who has published recently in your field’s top journals whether a letter is standard or not.
- If submitting a letter is standard practice, ask others in your field for examples of their publication letters to see what information is typically included.
Research the specific journal:
- If you aren’t already very familiar with the journal, read a handful of recent articles to get a sense of the type and content of manuscripts the journal publishes.
- Explore the journal’s website to see what you can learn about the journal in general.
- Read the journal’s mission statement.
- Read carefully any information the journal provides for potential authors.
- If you still have questions, consider contacting one of the journal’s editors.
After completing your research, you should have a good sense of the journal’s audience and the sort of articles that appear in the journal.
Once you know the expectations for publication letters in your field and in a specific journal, revisit the reasons your manuscript is a good fit for the journal. Remember the journal has no obligation to publish your manuscript. Instead, you advocate for your scholarship and communicate why your manuscript is a good fit. Below are some questions to consider.
Consider how your manuscript fits into the publication:
- How does it use a specific methodology or framework important to the journal?
- How does it focus on themes that have been popular in recent issues?
- How does it advance a new perspective on topics typically seen in the journal?
- Does it fit with any proposed themed issues?
Consider the audience for your manuscript:
- How does your subject or your approach to it intersect with the interests of the journal’s readers?
- How does your manuscript appeal to readers outside your subfield?
- Could your manuscript reach a broader audience that could expand the journal’s readership? If so, how?
Consider how your manuscript engages with the field at large:
- How is it advancing new perspectives, approaches, or topics?
- How is it critiquing previous or current scholarship?
- How is it anticipating new directions in the field?
- How is it using a common approach in a new way?
All these questions encourage you to consider how your manuscript contributes to the field in a way that is valuable enough for a journal to publish it. Make no mistake, the cover letter is an argument for why your manuscript should be published.
Writing a draft
This section addresses two aspects of composing a cover letter draft. The first aspect is the form, and the second is the content. Think about both of these aspects when composing your draft.
Consider the form
The structure of a document can be defined as the different sections of the document and the order in which they appear. There should be an addressee and addresser, as well as the proper contact information. If possible, it should be on departmental letterhead. The letter may be as short as three sentences or as long as multiple paragraphs. But unless the writer is a senior scholar, even a longer letter should be no more than one page. Some standard features you might consider:
Addressee. If you choose or are required to write a cover letter, follow the standard format for letters in the country in which the publication is based.
- It is usually addressed to the editor unless otherwise specified.
- If you cannot find the name of the editor, it is permissible to address it to the Editor-in-Chief or Managing Editor.
- The address should be the journal’s, not the editor’s personal address or institutional address.
Font. While this category may seem trivial, font choice communicates a lot to readers.
- The goal for a letter is readability, so avoid fonts and styles that are difficult to read.
- Standard fonts include Arial or Times New Roman, usually in size 12.
Paragraphs. Again, the formatting of paragraphs aids in the readability of a letter, and an unusual paragraph format may appear unprofessional to some readers.
- Make sure that paragraphs are not indented.
- Single-space the text and justify it to the left.
- Separate paragraphs with one line of space.
Closing. Letter closings solidify your presentation as a professional. Maintain the same formality as the rest of the letter.
- Close with “sincerely,” “best regards,” or something comparably formal.
- Type your name and provide your signature.
- Include your contact information near the end.
- For a dual-authored manuscript, include the contact information for both authors.
- If the manuscript was composed by more than two authors, include only one additional author’s contact information with yours.
Consider the content
Remember that a cover letter, especially a longer one, is essentially a professional pitch for your manuscript. You ultimately need to communicate why your manuscript would be a good fit for a particular journal. Journals asking for longer cover letters want to know whether you are familiar with their audience and the journal’s mission statement. Below are some elements that you should consider when composing your letter:
Summarize the major arguments/findings of the manuscript. Make sure that you clearly explain what you discovered from your research. Connect these findings to the journal’s aims and scope. Some questions you might consider:
- Did you make new connections?
- Did you confirm previous findings?
- Did you discover new implications?
Discuss your methodology. Clarify the type of methods you used in your research. Ask yourself:
- Did you undertake a case study? A longitudinal study? A cross-sectional study?
- Is the study qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods?
- Did you use or adapt a specific model or framework?
- Did you approach the topic using a new theoretical lens?
- Did you integrate multiple theories or theoretical frameworks?
- Did you apply a theory or method not frequently used in your subfield?
- Did you approach a theory or method in a new way?
Consider the aim of the journal. Every journal has a purpose, and most journals have a statement about the type of scholarship they feature. You might ask:
- What is the aim and scope of the journal?
- How does it present itself to the field?
- How does your manuscript fit with recent publications in the journal?
Consider the readership. Here are some questions you can ask:
- Who is the audience for the journal, and how will your manuscript appeal to them?
- Which institutions subscribe to this journal?
- How does your manuscript appeal to readers outside your subdiscipline?
- How does your manuscript appeal to people outside your discipline?
- How does it appeal to non-academic readers or professionals?
Consider the journal’s future trajectory. Research journals strive to remain relevant. In order to do so, journals often change to reflect trends in the field. Ask yourself:
- Are they attempting to expand their readership?
- Are they trying to integrate interdisciplinary approaches?
- Are they incorporating more theoretical questions or newer methodologies?
- Are they willing to critique the field?
- Would your manuscript work as a part of a special issue?
Provide context for the research . If you are writing a longer letter, explain how your research fits in both with the research in your field at large and in your subfield. Ask yourself:
- How does your work contribute to your field?
- How does it engage with current scholarship in your field or subfield?
- Does your scholarship address an oversight in the field? If so, how?
- Do you innovate in terms of the subject(s); the methodology; or the integration of fields?
- Do you address a gap in current research?
Additional considerations . Check to determine whether the journal requires any additional information. Some common expectations include:
- Comment on the type of article submitted (e.g., research article, review, case report)
- Assurances that all authors agree with the content of the manuscript
- Assurance that the corresponding author will take responsibility for informing co-authors of editorial decisions, reviews received, and any changes or revisions made
- Information about any closely related manuscripts that have been submitted for simultaneous consideration to the same or another journal
- Statements about conflicts of interest or activities that might be seen as influencing the research
- Statements regarding ethical practice
- A copy of permissions to reproduce copyrighted material or a notice that permissions are pending (if applicable)
- Names of specific reviewers from the journal who may be a good fit to read your manuscript
Below are several other elements to keep in mind as you write your publication letter:
- Avoid using too much jargon or too many acronyms.
- Avoid over-embellishing your findings or exaggerating their significance.
- Avoid name dropping.
- Keep it simple and straightforward. Do not write a novel.
- Keep it professional. Avoid humor.
- Don’t copy text word-for-word from your manuscript.
Below are two cover letter templates to help you visualize how form and content combine to make a strong publication letter. The templates offer guidelines for each section, but they can be modified based on the standards of your field. Use them to help you think through the elements that are most important to include in your letter.
Remember, your first draft does not have to be your last. Make sure to get feedback from different readers, especially if this is one of your first publications. It is not uncommon to go through several stages of revisions. Check out the Writing Center’s handout on editing and proofreading and video on proofreading to help with this last stage of writing.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
American Psychological Association. n.d. “Cover Letter.” APA Style. Accessed April 2019. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/research-publication/cover-letters.
Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.
BioScience Writers (website). 2012. “Writing Cover Letters for Scientific Manuscripts.” September 29, 2012. https://biosciencewriters.com/Writing-Cover-Letters-for-Scientific-Manuscripts.aspx .
Jones, Caryn. n.d. “Writing Effective Cover Letters for Journal Submissions: Tips and a Word Template.” Think Science. Accessed August 2019. https://thinkscience.co.jp/en/articles/writing-journal-cover-letters.html .
Kelsky, Karen. 2013. “How To Write a Journal Article Submission Cover Letter.” The Professor Is In (blog), April 26, 2013. https://theprofessorisin.com/2013/04/26/how-to-write-a-journal-article-submission-cover-letter/ .
Kelsky, Karen. 2013. “Of Cover Letters and Magic (A Follow-up Post).” The Professor Is In (blog), April 29, 2013. http://theprofessorisin.com/2013/04/29/of-cover-letters-and-magic-a-followup-post/ .
Mudrak, Ben. n.d. “Writing a Cover Letter.” AJE . https://www.aje.com/dist/docs/Writing-a-cover-letter-AJE-2015.pdf .
Wordvice. n.d. “How to Write the Best Journal Submission Cover Letter.” Accessed January 2019. https://wordvice.com/journal-submission-cover-letter/ .
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- Publication Process
How to Get an Article Published: Checklist
- 4 minute read
Table of Contents
It’s sometimes said that writing your article is the easiest part of the process. Publishing it, and getting it into the hands of other researchers and interested parties, is another matter, altogether.
In this post, we’ll go over details on how to get an article published. We’ll also include a checklist for manuscript submission. When you follow these guidelines, you will increase your chances of getting your hard work published in a journal.
Our first step will be to make sure you are submitting your article to the right journal, and following their guidelines. So, it’s important that we include a disclaimer here. Every journal will have different procedures and requirements, so it’s critical that you follow their guidelines exactly. This article is simply meant to be a general guide.
How to Get Published in a Journal
Before you even consider getting published, it’s critical that you select the right journal. Is your article a good fit? You can find out by looking at the journal’s scope and aim, as well as evaluating recent articles. Do they compliment your work? Would your article “make sense” in the context of the other articles being published? Do you want to publish open access? If so, make sure your chosen journal has that option.
Checklist Journal Guidelines
If you have the right journal for you, simply follow these checklist journal guidelines. Again, make sure you check with your specific journal to make sure you’re following their procedure.
1 – Write your paper in accordance to the Instructions for Authors (IFAs)
These will tell you everything that you need to know about what the editorial board of your journal wants to see in your article, including details like style guides and word counts.
2 – Is your article well-written?
Make sure that it flows logically, you’ve described your research completely, and that you’re using clear and accessible language. Have a friend, peer or editing expert make suggestions that will improve the overall quality and clarity of your paper.
3 – Double-check citations
Double, then triple-check the accuracy of your citations. Have any of the articles you’ve cited been withdrawn? Do you have citations that support your text? Do you have any needed permissions for copyrighted material?
4 – Write a killer title and abstract
Here’s your chance to get your audience’s attention. You want to make your title descriptive and catchy, but not overly so. Likewise, with your abstract; think of it as a way to “sell” your article, so that the reader of your abstract will want to explore the rest of your paper.
5 – Find your keywords
Help your audience find you and your work by selecting effective keywords. Consider keyword research to find the most popularly searched phrases that you can include naturally within your abstract, article description, and even the title.
6 – Double-check IFAs
As mentioned previously, before you even begin writing your article, if possible know the IFAs of your chosen journal. Many journal’s offer templates to help you with formatting, and instructions on style, reference section requirements, etc.
7 – Write a Killer Cover Letter
One of the most overlooked elements of the publishing process, your cover letter can make or break your success to publishing in a journal. You want to explain, in a creative way, why your paper is the perfect article for the journal, and why the editorial board should consider your work for publication. Take your time on this step. There are various templates of successfully published cover letters, and templates available online.
8 – Have everything?
Make sure you have all the files you need. This will depend on what type of peer review the journal is utilizing. For example, for a peer, double-blind review, you’ll need to provide an anonymized version of your manuscript. Additionally, make sure you have all your keywords clearly identified on the title page, attached and included illustrations, figures and captions, as well as tables that include their legends, as well as their description, title and any corresponding footnotes.
9 – Who’s submitting the manuscript?
One author should be designated as the contact or corresponding author. Make sure complete information is included, such as email address, the address of the affiliated organization or site, and the full mailing address for the corresponding author.
10 – Have you included everybody?
Make sure you have all the information you need about any co-authors, including names, contact information, institution, etc. It can be tricky to define authorship, so check out our blog on that here.
11 – Have your ORCiD?
This is an identifier that links all of your work together. Make sure you include this identifier when you submit your work.
12 – Disclosure Statements and Competing Interests
Have any? Make sure these are clearly disclosed when you submit your manuscript. Each journal will have a particular format. Make sure you’re being transparent about any conflicts of interest.
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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper in 7 Steps
What comes next after you're done with your research? Publishing the results in a journal of course! We tell you how to present your work in the best way possible.
This post is part of a series, which serves to provide hands-on information and resources for authors and editors.
Things have gotten busy in scholarly publishing: These days, a new article gets published in the 50,000 most important peer-reviewed journals every few seconds, while each one takes on average 40 minutes to read. Hundreds of thousands of papers reach the desks of editors and reviewers worldwide each year and 50% of all submissions end up rejected at some stage.
In a nutshell: there is a lot of competition, and the people who decide upon the fate of your manuscript are short on time and overworked. But there are ways to make their lives a little easier and improve your own chances of getting your work published!
Well, it may seem obvious, but before submitting an academic paper, always make sure that it is an excellent reflection of the research you have done and that you present it in the most professional way possible. Incomplete or poorly presented manuscripts can create a great deal of frustration and annoyance for editors who probably won’t even bother wasting the time of the reviewers!
This post will discuss 7 steps to the successful publication of your research paper:
- Check whether your research is publication-ready
- Choose an article type
- Choose a journal
- Construct your paper
- Decide the order of authors
- Check and double-check
- Submit your paper
1. Check Whether Your Research Is Publication-Ready
Should you publish your research at all?
If your work holds academic value – of course – a well-written scholarly article could open doors to your research community. However, if you are not yet sure, whether your research is ready for publication, here are some key questions to ask yourself depending on your field of expertise:
- Have you done or found something new and interesting? Something unique?
- Is the work directly related to a current hot topic?
- Have you checked the latest results or research in the field?
- Have you provided solutions to any difficult problems?
- Have the findings been verified?
- Have the appropriate controls been performed if required?
- Are your findings comprehensive?
If the answers to all relevant questions are “yes”, you need to prepare a good, strong manuscript. Remember, a research paper is only useful if it is clearly understood, reproducible and if it is read and used .
2. Choose An Article Type
The first step is to determine which type of paper is most appropriate for your work and what you want to achieve. The following list contains the most important, usually peer-reviewed article types in the natural sciences:
Full original research papers disseminate completed research findings. On average this type of paper is 8-10 pages long, contains five figures, and 25-30 references. Full original research papers are an important part of the process when developing your career.
Review papers present a critical synthesis of a specific research topic. These papers are usually much longer than original papers and will contain numerous references. More often than not, they will be commissioned by journal editors. Reviews present an excellent way to solidify your research career.
Letters, Rapid or Short Communications are often published for the quick and early communication of significant and original advances. They are much shorter than full articles and usually limited in length by the journal. Journals specifically dedicated to short communications or letters are also published in some fields. In these the authors can present short preliminary findings before developing a full-length paper.
3. Choose a Journal
Are you looking for the right place to publish your paper? Find out here whether a De Gruyter journal might be the right fit.
Submit to journals that you already read, that you have a good feel for. If you do so, you will have a better appreciation of both its culture and the requirements of the editors and reviewers.
Other factors to consider are:
- The specific subject area
- The aims and scope of the journal
- The type of manuscript you have written
- The significance of your work
- The reputation of the journal
- The reputation of the editors within the community
- The editorial/review and production speeds of the journal
- The community served by the journal
- The coverage and distribution
- The accessibility ( open access vs. closed access)
4. Construct Your Paper
Each element of a paper has its purpose, so you should make these sections easy to index and search.
Don’t forget that requirements can differ highly per publication, so always make sure to apply a journal’s specific instructions – or guide – for authors to your manuscript, even to the first draft (text layout, paper citation, nomenclature, figures and table, etc.) It will save you time, and the editor’s.
Also, even in these days of Internet-based publishing, space is still at a premium, so be as concise as possible. As a good journalist would say: “Never use three words when one will do!”
Let’s look at the typical structure of a full research paper, but bear in mind certain subject disciplines may have their own specific requirements so check the instructions for authors on the journal’s home page.
4.1 The Title
It’s important to use the title to tell the reader what your paper is all about! You want to attract their attention, a bit like a newspaper headline does. Be specific and to the point. Keep it informative and concise, and avoid jargon and abbreviations (unless they are universally recognized like DNA, for example).
4.2 The Abstract
This could be termed as the “advertisement” for your article. Make it interesting and easily understood without the reader having to read the whole article. Be accurate and specific, and keep it as brief and concise as possible. Some journals (particularly in the medical fields) will ask you to structure the abstract in distinct, labeled sections, which makes it even more accessible.
A clear abstract will influence whether or not your work is considered and whether an editor should invest more time on it or send it for review.
Keywords are used by abstracting and indexing services, such as PubMed and Web of Science. They are the labels of your manuscript, which make it “searchable” online by other researchers.
Include words or phrases (usually 4-8) that are closely related to your topic but not “too niche” for anyone to find them. Make sure to only use established abbreviations. Think about what scientific terms and its variations your potential readers are likely to use and search for. You can also do a test run of your selected keywords in one of the common academic search engines. Do similar articles to your own appear? Yes? Then that’s a good sign.
This first part of the main text should introduce the problem, as well as any existing solutions you are aware of and the main limitations. Also, state what you hope to achieve with your research.
Do not confuse the introduction with the results, discussion or conclusion.
Every research article should include a detailed Methods section (also referred to as “Materials and Methods”) to provide the reader with enough information to be able to judge whether the study is valid and reproducible.
Include detailed information so that a knowledgeable reader can reproduce the experiment. However, use references and supplementary materials to indicate previously published procedures.
In this section, you will present the essential or primary results of your study. To display them in a comprehensible way, you should use subheadings as well as illustrations such as figures, graphs, tables and photos, as appropriate.
Here you should tell your readers what the results mean .
Do state how the results relate to the study’s aims and hypotheses and how the findings relate to those of other studies. Explain all possible interpretations of your findings and the study’s limitations.
Do not make “grand statements” that are not supported by the data. Also, do not introduce any new results or terms. Moreover, do not ignore work that conflicts or disagrees with your findings. Instead …
Be brave! Address conflicting study results and convince the reader you are the one who is correct.
Your conclusion isn’t just a summary of what you’ve already written. It should take your paper one step further and answer any unresolved questions.
Sum up what you have shown in your study and indicate possible applications and extensions. The main question your conclusion should answer is: What do my results mean for the research field and my community?
4.9 Acknowledgments and Ethical Statements
It is extremely important to acknowledge anyone who has helped you with your paper, including researchers who supplied materials or reagents (e.g. vectors or antibodies); and anyone who helped with the writing or English, or offered critical comments about the content.
Learn more about academic integrity in our blog post “Scholarly Publication Ethics: 4 Common Mistakes You Want To Avoid” .
Remember to state why people have been acknowledged and ask their permission . Ensure that you acknowledge sources of funding, including any grant or reference numbers.
Furthermore, if you have worked with animals or humans, you need to include information about the ethical approval of your study and, if applicable, whether informed consent was given. Also, state whether you have any competing interests regarding the study (e.g. because of financial or personal relationships.)
The end is in sight, but don’t relax just yet!
De facto, there are often more mistakes in the references than in any other part of the manuscript. It is also one of the most annoying and time-consuming problems for editors.
Remember to cite the main scientific publications on which your work is based. But do not inflate the manuscript with too many references. Avoid excessive – and especially unnecessary – self-citations. Also, avoid excessive citations of publications from the same institute or region.
5. Decide the Order of Authors
In the sciences, the most common way to order the names of the authors is by relative contribution.
Generally, the first author conducts and/or supervises the data analysis and the proper presentation and interpretation of the results. They put the paper together and usually submit the paper to the journal.
Co-authors make intellectual contributions to the data analysis and contribute to data interpretation. They review each paper draft. All of them must be able to present the paper and its results, as well as to defend the implications and discuss study limitations.
Do not leave out authors who should be included or add “gift authors”, i.e. authors who did not contribute significantly.
6. Check and Double-Check
As a final step before submission, ask colleagues to read your work and be constructively critical .
Make sure that the paper is appropriate for the journal – take a last look at their aims and scope. Check if all of the requirements in the instructions for authors are met.
Ensure that the cited literature is balanced. Are the aims, purpose and significance of the results clear?
Conduct a final check for language, either by a native English speaker or an editing service.
7. Submit Your Paper
When you and your co-authors have double-, triple-, quadruple-checked the manuscript: submit it via e-mail or online submission system. Along with your manuscript, submit a cover letter, which highlights the reasons why your paper would appeal to the journal and which ensures that you have received approval of all authors for submission.
It is up to the editors and the peer-reviewers now to provide you with their (ideally constructive and helpful) comments and feedback. Time to take a breather!
If the paper gets rejected, do not despair – it happens to literally everybody. If the journal suggests major or minor revisions, take the chance to provide a thorough response and make improvements as you see fit. If the paper gets accepted, congrats!
It’s now time to get writing and share your hard work – good luck!
If you are interested, check out this related blog post
[Title Image by Nick Morrison via Unsplash]
David Sleeman worked as Senior Journals Manager in the field of Physical Sciences at De Gruyter.
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How To Write a Journal Article
Posted by Rene Tetzner | Sep 6, 2021 | Paper Writing Advice | 0 |
How To Write a Journal Article for Publication in Twelve Essential Steps Original articles intended for publication are the most common means of disseminating the processes, results and implications of advanced research, so it is imperative that academics and scientists who wish to publish and share their work know how to write a journal article successfully. Although there are significant variations in manuscript requirements among disciplines and publishers, the writing tips I present below apply to most scholarly articles and journals across a wide range of research fields and specialisations.
Step 1: The first question to ask yourself as you begin drafting your paper or searching for a journal to publish it is what type of article will be appropriate for the material you wish to communicate. Original research, for instance, is usually reported in an original research article, whereas an evaluation of published scholarship on a topic would be written as a review article. Choosing the right type of article before you start is essential.
Step 2: Either before or after you draft your article, you will need to learn about periodicals in the field and choose one as your target journal. The scope, aims and concerns published on the journal’s website should be appropriate for your research, and the journal must publish the kind of paper necessary to communicate all important aspects of your work.
Step 3: Once you have decided on the journal to which you will be submitting your article, you should study the journal’s guidelines for authors. In some cases these will provide a great deal of information about how to write a journal article for publication; in others very little help will be offered. Either way, the guidelines must be followed with care as you prepare your article, so pay close attention to details, examples and restrictions.
Step 4: With the journal’s guidelines and your research notes by your side (or at least firmly in mind), you are ready to outline the structure and content of your article. A scientific research article is likely to use a predictable structure of introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion and conclusions, but other fields and types of paper might offer greater freedom. Structure should never be neglected, however, since clear and logical organisation increases accessibility and reader comprehension.
Step 5: Preparing tables, figures, appendices and other supplementary materials before you actually start drafting the paper is an excellent strategy when you are struggling with how to write a journal article. The production of these tools for readers can help an author analyse and interpret findings more effectively, and writing the main text with these tools in hand tends to reduce unnecessary repetition of information.
Step 6: For many academics and scientists, starting to draft the text is the most difficult part of writing an article for publication. Beginning can be rendered easier by writing the separate sections not in the order in which they will ultimately appear, but in an order that better reflects the research process. The methods can therefore be described first, with the report of results, the discussion and the conclusions following. Once you know the contents of these parts, the introduction, background, abstract and list of references can be added.
Step 7: Be sure to take the time to assess your methods, analyse your results and interpret your findings thoroughly. Reporting what you did and what you discovered is not enough for a research paper intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. You will also need to tell your audience what your research means, why it is innovative and how it might be productively used by future researchers and practitioners.
Step 8: Remember as you work out how to write a journal article that there is simply no substitute for excellent writing. Scholarly prose must be both clear and correct to communicate research processes and results effectively, and the style must be both formal and appropriate for your discipline or area of specialisation. Reading published articles in your field and especially in your target journal will give you a good idea of the kind of writing you will need to submit.
Step 9: Proofread, edit and revise your draft repeatedly until you have eliminated all errors of fact, language and typing. Too many authors neglect this time-consuming aspect of how to write a journal article and suffer the consequences in the form of rejections and revision requests. As the person who knows your research better than anyone else, you are the person to ensure that your article intended for publication does that research justice.
Step 10: Recruit mentors, colleagues and friends to read your article and offer feedback. Researchers who work in your field and have successfully published their own academic or scientific writing will be able to comment constructively on research content and presentation. If English grammar, tricky references or other challenges of language and formatting prove problematic, a professional proofreader or editor can help.
Step 11: After reader feedback has been considered and the final revisions are complete, submit your manuscript exactly as the journal’s instructions indicate. Submission via an online form is an efficient and common method, but even if the journal’s preferences seem outdated, they must be observed. Unless the guidelines suggest that a cover letter to the journal editor would be unwelcome, be sure to include one to introduce your research and article in an engaging way.
Step 12: Finally, it is likely that your thoughts will be with your manuscript after you have submitted it and even that a host of ideas for further refinements will pop into your mind the instant the article is beyond your grasp. Take advantage of this impulse as you await a response by jotting your ideas down. If a request for revisions arrives from the editor, your notes are likely to prove incredibly helpful.
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Turnitin's AI writing detection available now
Turnitin launches AI detection to help educators identify when AI writing tools such as ChatGPT have been used in students’ submissions.
Academic integrity in the age of AI writing
Over the years, academic integrity has been both supported and tested by technology. Today, educators are facing a new frontier with AI writing and ChatGPT.
Here at Turnitin, we believe that AI can be a positive force that, when used responsibly, has the potential to support and enhance the learning process. We also believe that equitable access to AI tools is vital, which is why we’re working with students and educators to develop technology that can support and enhance the learning process. However, it is important to acknowledge new challenges alongside the opportunities.
We recognize that for educators, there is a pressing and immediate need to know when and where AI and AI writing tools have been used by students. This is why we are now offering AI detection capabilities for educators in our products.
Gain insights on how much of a student’s submission is authentic, human writing versus AI-generated from ChatGPT or other tools.
Robust reporting identifies AI-written text and provides information educators need to determine their next course of action. We’ve designed our solution with educators, for educators.
AI writing detection complements Turnitin’s similarity checking workflow and is integrated with your LMS, providing a seamless, familiar experience.
Turnitin’s AI writing detection capability available with Originality, helps educators identify AI-generated content in student work while safeguarding the interests of students.
Turnitin AI Innovation Lab
Welcome to the Turnitin AI Innovation Lab, a hub for new and upcoming product developments in the area of AI writing. You can follow our progress on detection initiatives for AI writing, ChatGPT, and AI-paraphrasing.
Understanding the false positive rate for sentences of our AI writing detection capability
We’d like to share more insight on our sentence level false positive rate and tips on how to use our AI writing detection metrics.
Understanding false positives within our AI writing detection capabilities
We’d like to share some insight on how our AI detection model deals with false positives and what constitutes a false positive.
Have questions? Read these FAQs on Turnitin’s AI writing detection capabilities
Helping solve the AI writing puzzle one piece at a time
AI-generated writing has transformed every aspect of our lives, including the classroom. However, identifying AI writing in students’ submissions is just one piece in the broader, complex, ever-evolving AI writing puzzle.
Teaching in the age of AI writing
As AI text generators like ChatGPT quickly evolve, our educator resources will, too. Curated and created by our team of veteran educators, our resources help educators meet these new challenges. They are built for professional learning and outline steps educators can take immediately to guide students in maintaining academic integrity when faced with AI writing tools.
A guide to help educators determine which resource is more applicable to their instructional situation: the AI misuse checklist or the AI misuse rubric.
A guide sharing strategies educators can consider to help when confronted with a false positive.
A guide sharing strategies students can consider to help when confronted with a false positive.
The Turnitin Educator Network is a space to meet, discuss and share best practices on academic integrity in the age of AI.
Learn more about AI writing in our blog
Written by experts in the field, educators, and Turnitin professionals, our blog offers resources and thought leadership in support of students, instructors, and administrators. Dive into articles on a variety of important topics, including academic integrity, assessment, and instruction in a world with artificial intelligence.
Discover the secrets of mastering AI for simple tasks with the best writing AI practices. Unlock new levels of efficiency and creativity.
Students come to our classrooms with an awareness of AI writing tools. While many students comprehend that AI writing can be misused, it’s important to define the difference between proper and improper use of tools like ChatGPT. Having a discussion about learning and the ways in which ChatGPT can help or inhibit the ways in which students absorb information can highlight the intersection of AI writing tools and academic integrity.
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Turnitin ai tools in the news.
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Cheat GPT? Turnitin CEO Chris Caren weighs in on combating A.I. plagiarism | CNBC Squawk Box
Since the inception of AI-generated writing, educators and institutions are learning how to navigate it in the classroom. Turnitin’s CEO Chris Caren joins ‘Squawk Box’ to discuss how it is being used in the classroom and how educators can identify AI writing in student submissions.
Trouble viewing? View the video on YouTube or adjust your cookie preferences .
Schools Ban ChatGPT amid Fears of Artificial-Intelligence-Assisted Cheating
U.S. educators are debating the merits and risks of a new, free artificial intelligence tool called ChatGPT, which students are using to write passable high school essays. So far, there isn’t a reliable way to catch cheating. Matt Dibble has the story.
Some U.S. schools banning AI technology while others embrace it | NBC Nightly News
ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence program, can write college-level essays in seconds. While some school districts are banning it due to cheating concerns, NBC News’ Jacob Ward has details on why some teachers are embracing the technology.
Artificial intelligence, it seems, is taking over the world. At least that's what alarmists would have you believe . The line between fact and fiction continues to blur, and recognizing what is real versus what some bot concocted grows increasingly difficult with each passing week.
In this episode of THE Journal Insider podcast, host and THEJournal.com editor Kristal Kuykendall welcomes two former teachers who have been working on AI writing tools at Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection software used by thousands of K–12 schools and institutions of higher education.
ChatGPT, an AI-powered “large language” model, is poised to change the way high school English teachers do their jobs. With the ability to understand and respond to natural language, ChatGPT is a valuable tool for educators looking to provide personalized instruction and feedback to their students.
For press and media inquiries, contact us at [email protected]
Meet us in person to discuss ai writing detection.
We are attending larger and smaller events to ensure we’ll have the opportunity to discuss academic integrity in the age of AI writing with you in person. Here’s a list of events that Turnitin has already participated in, or will be participating in this year. Looking forward to seeing you there!
MBO Digitaal Conferentie, September 21-22, Ulft, Netherlands World Academic Summit, 26-28 September 2023, Sydney, Australia Campus Innovation, September 27-29, Hamburg, Germany tawiab 2023: Tagung wissenschaftliche Abschlussarbeiten und Hochschulschriften-Repositorien, September 28, Vienna, Austria ACO-TEC 2023, September 28-29, Vienna, Austria Digital Universities: MENA, 9-11 October, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, 9-12 October 2023, Chicago, USA
EDUtech Europe, October 10-12, Amsterdam, Netherlands Digital Universities: Europe, 23-25 October 2023, Barcelona, Spain THE Campus Live US, 8-9 November 2023, Los Angeles, USA SURF Onderwijsdagen, November 14-15, Den Bosch, Netherlands NCTE, 16-19 November 2023, Columbus, OH, USA THE Campus Live UK, 22-23 November 2023, UK Online Educa Berlin 2023 (OEB), November 22-24, Berlin, Germany
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- 06 November 2023
‘ChatGPT detector’ catches AI-generated papers with unprecedented accuracy
- McKenzie Prillaman
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A new AI detection tool can accurately identify chemistry papers written by ChatGPT. Credit: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa via Alamy
A machine-learning tool can easily spot when chemistry papers are written using the chatbot ChatGPT, according to a study published on 6 November in Cell Reports Physical Science 1 . The specialized classifier, which outperformed two existing artificial intelligence (AI) detectors, could help academic publishers to identify papers created by AI text generators.
“Most of the field of text analysis wants a really general detector that will work on anything,” says co-author Heather Desaire, a chemist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. But by making a tool that focuses on a particular type of paper, “we were really going after accuracy”.
The findings suggest that efforts to develop AI detectors could be boosted by tailoring software to specific types of writing, Desaire says. “If you can build something quickly and easily, then it’s not that hard to build something for different domains.”
The elements of style
Desaire and her colleagues first described their ChatGPT detector in June, when they applied it to Perspective articles from the journal Science 2 . Using machine learning, the detector examines 20 features of writing style, including variation in sentence lengths, and the frequency of certain words and punctuation marks, to determine whether an academic scientist or ChatGPT wrote a piece of text. The findings show that “you could use a small set of features to get a high level of accuracy”, Desaire says.
How ChatGPT and other AI tools could disrupt scientific publishing
In the latest study, the detector was trained on the introductory sections of papers from ten chemistry journals published by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The team chose the introduction because this section of a paper is fairly easy for ChatGPT to write if it has access to background literature, Desaire says. The researchers trained their tool on 100 published introductions to serve as human-written text, and then asked ChatGPT-3.5 to write 200 introductions in ACS journal style. For 100 of these, the tool was provided with the papers’ titles, and for the other 100, it was given their abstracts.
When tested on introductions written by people and those generated by AI from the same journals, the tool identified ChatGPT-3.5-written sections based on titles with 100% accuracy. For the ChatGPT-generated introductions based on abstracts, the accuracy was slightly lower, at 98%. The tool worked just as well with text written by ChatGPT-4, the latest version of the chatbot. By contrast, the AI detector ZeroGPT identified AI-written introductions with an accuracy of only about 35–65%, depending on the version of ChatGPT used and whether the introduction had been generated from the title or the abstract of the paper. A text-classifier tool produced by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, also performed poorly — it was able to spot AI-written introductions with an accuracy of around 10–55%.
The new ChatGPT catcher even performed well with introductions from journals it wasn’t trained on, and it caught AI text that was created from a variety of prompts, including one aimed to confuse AI detectors. However, the system is highly specialized for scientific journal articles. When presented with real articles from university newspapers, it failed to recognize them as being written by humans.
What the authors are doing is “something fascinating”, says Debora Weber-Wulff, a computer scientist who studies academic plagiarism at the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences. Many existing tools try to determine authorship by searching for the predictive text patterns of AI-generated writing rather than by looking at features of writing style, she says. “I’d never thought of using stylometrics on ChatGPT.”
But Weber-Wulff points out that there are other issues driving the use of ChatGPT in academia. Many researchers are under pressure to quickly churn out papers, she notes, or they might not see the process of writing a paper as an important part of science. AI-detection tools will not address these issues, and should not be seen as “a magic software solution to a social problem”.
Desaire, H., Chua, A. E., Kim, M.-G. & Hua, D. Cell Rep. Phys. Sci. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101672 (2023).
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Desaire, H. et al. Cell Rep. Phys. Sci . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101426 (2023).
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